The Box Butte County Commissioners approved adding funds to the district court’s budget after increased funding to provide attorneys for defendants. The commissioners took the action during the Wednesday, April 8, meeting at the county courthouse in Alliance. On the agenda were three resolutions and one agreement for discussion.
Up first was Resolution 2021-02, which Box Butte County Clerk Judy Messersmith said “is to transfer funds from the Public Defender budget to the District Court budget.”
“Judge O’Gorman had contacted me with some concerns that he was at the bottom of his budget with three months left,” Box Butte County Attorney Terry Curtiss said. “The primary reason for that being all of the appointed counsel fees that had gone to replacing the public defender.
“He also has a couple of jury trials scheduled, one of them being a murder trial that will require a large jury pool in order to pick the jury. Based on those concerns, I said that you would explore options and the logical option would be to take it from the public defender budget because we aren’t spending money on a public defender. This just keeps his books on the plus side which is necessary.”
Between District Court Judge Travis O’Gorman and District Court Clerk Kevin Horn, it was estimated that a $30,000 transfer from the public defender’s budget would be sufficient.
“If we do $30,000, I would just as soon do $38,000 and have a trail,” Chairman Susan Lore said.
Following some discussion they decided to “zero out” the public defender’s budget and go ahead and transfer all $38,046 from the public defender’s budget into the district court budget. The motion was approved and the resolution was signed.
County commissioners also approved a resolution voicing opposition to the federal government’s proposed 30x30 land preservation land goal. President Joe Biden committed to the “30x30 land” goal in a Jan. 27 executive order focused on tackling climate change. The 30x30 campaign is a science-based initiative to conserve 30 percent of America’s lands and waters by 2030.
Counties throughout Colorado and Nebraska have passed resolutions opposing the campaign, saying it would negatively impact their counties. Morrill County and Scotts Bluff County have passed similar resolutions.
Also on Thursday, after some discussion, the board approved the Box Butte County treasurer adding a separate account for COVID American Rescue Plan funds. The account is for funds to be held separately from all other funds.
“Because these are federal funds and because of the substantial amount, the state auditors have suggested that county boards approve the new fund because of statute 23-106 they just don’t want to see us get into any trouble down the road,” said Box Butte County Treasurer Valery Bell.
MAXIMUS Agreement 2021-01 was discussed and signed as a cost allocation plan and title IV-D child Support indirect cost rates.
Commissioner Mike McGinnis asked Box Butte County Assessor if her office has had a lot of residents inquire about the valuations that have gone out.
“Earlier this year we sent out preliminary notices and gave them a deadline to come in by,” Assessor Michelle Robinson said. “We gave them the option to either come in or call and we’ve had a good response for that. We might possibly do that on a regular basis for the appraisal process. Our next reappraisal is Hemingford.”
“The preliminary notices that went out were only for those that increased in value,” Robinson said. “That was an error on our part, so of those that went out we have probably had a 65% response or greater.”
Bids were accepted for rock pit screening by the board and Box Butte Road Superintendent Barb Keegan.
Only one bid was submitted and it came from Kustom Rock out of Gordon. The bid for 10,000 ton at $5.66 was accepted. The board extended the bid to double the amount for the same price.